Homestay programme is one of the best tourism products that Malaysia offers to promote the nation’s cultural heritage. Tourists who purchase homestay packages are offered to stay with their respective foster families and experience a Malaysian communal village life. The unforgettable memory gained from this programme is something that proves invaluable as it does not only offer the chance to visit a new destination but also able to create a strong bond between the visitors and the family that host them.
Day by day, more and more tourists are aware of this unique programme. As such, the Ministry of Tourism is developing more homestays in the country to accommodate the increasing demand, consequently contributing to improving the income of citizens in rural areas.
Recently, a new homestay had just been developed in Kampung Gali Hilir, Pahang. The inauguration of the new homestay was done by Dato’ Dr. Ng Yen Yen, Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism on the May 15th, 2011. The inauguration was also in conjunction with the culmination of the Home stay Management Seminar in Pahang, conducted from the 13th until the 15th of May 2011. A total of 50 participants from all homestays in Pahang attended the seminar to gain more knowledge about the effective homestay management to ensure that visitors will be satisfied when staying at their respective abodes.
According to Dato’ Dr. Ng Yen Yen, the homestay programme is a proven approach for tourists to authentically learn about Malaysian culture. While helping out the economic well-being of those who stay in rural areas, the programme is also an avenue to promote green tourism since most homestays are located within close proximity to natural attractions such as beaches, waterfalls, forests and highlands.
In the effort to boost the programme, the Ministry of Toursim has also developed Blackberry, iPhone, and iPad applications so that tourists can locate and obtain background information on homestays through their mobile devices. Dato’ Dr. Ng Yen Yen believes that, with continuous effort and government support, the Malaysian homestay programme surely serves as a veritable income generator and opportunity for Malaysians who are located outside the urban centres.